The fate of District 4

Jew is innocent until proven guilty...except when it comes to his residence

EDITORIAL Sup. Ed Jew may be able to explain the $40,000 cash in his safe to federal prosecutors. He may be able to convince the authorities that he did nothing illegal when he personally took payment for work that a permit expediter did and kept half the money for so-far-undefined community improvements. Those are criminal issues and a matter for the feds, Jew's lawyer, and possibly a judge and jury. And while we agree with Sup. Chris Daly — it sure looks terrible — Jew is innocent until proven guilty.

His residence is something else.

The daily papers have produced enough evidence over the past few weeks to raise real doubts about whether Jew actually lives at the address he listed on his voter registration and candidacy forms. By law, he had to be a resident of the district 30 days before he filed for supervisor, but the water service at his 28th Avenue house had been turned off for four months before he announced his candidacy. Current water records show very little use. Neighbors have said the house has been vacant for some time.

So either Jew comes and goes at very odd hours, never sees his neighbors, and doesn't shower or wash dishes at home, or he's got a real problem. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has asked Jew to submit proof by June 8 that he is a resident of District 4, but there's no reason the supervisor should wait for that deadline. He needs to immediately make public his home address and provide evidence to the voters of his district that he's actually a resident. And if he can't do that, then he ought to save the city and the district a long legal battle and simply step down.

Under the City Charter, the mayor has the authority to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors, although the person appointed has to face the voters at the next regularly scheduled election. If Jew leaves office soon, it's likely that both Gavin Newsom and his appointee will be on the November ballot.

And right now, the odds are that Newsom will appoint the man he endorsed and campaigned for last November — Doug Chan. That would be a mistake. As we reported in "PG&E's Candidates" (10/25/06), Chan is an attorney for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. His firm, Chan, Doi, and Leal, received more than $200,000 in legal fees from PG&E in 2005 and 2006, and as a partner, Chan received at least $10,000 of that (according to his own disclosure forms). If Newsom appointed him, Chan would be the first supervisor in modern history who directly received income from PG&E. At a time when the city is moving toward a public power system and is already involved in millions of dollars' worth of litigation with PG&E, that would be an unacceptable conflict.

Besides, the voters have already had something to say on the question. Chan finished fourth in the balloting last fall, behind Jew, Ron Dudum, and Jaynry Mak. Dudum, who is far too conservative for our taste, was the first runner-up — but there were four Asian candidates in the race, and together they far outpolled him. So there's a good case for appointing an Asian to this seat.

We endorsed Mak in the race, and we still think she would be the best of the candidates who ran in 2006 — and if the mayor wants to go beyond that field and find someone new, he'll have to make a strong case for defying the will of the voters. 2